23 March 2008

The Resurrection, from "The Rosary Sonnets"

Oh, the rush with which the forgotten mind awakens
Under the day a well of dark where color dwells
Until it learns the art of light and can reveal,
In neglected things, the freshness thought darkens.

With grey mastery distance starts to blur the horror.
Already the days begin to set around the loss.
The after-silence of his death becomes porous
To the gossip of regret that follows failure.

Through the cold, quiet nighttime of the grave underground,
The earth concentrated on him with complete longing
Until his sleep could recall the dark from beyond
To enfold memory lost in the requiem of mind.

The moon stirs a wave of brightening in the stone.
He rises clothed in the young colours of dawn.

(Text from
Conamara Blues, a collection of poems by John O'Donohue. Image from the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.)

22 March 2008

The Crucifixion: A Sonnet by John O'Donohue

When at last it comes, it comes in silence;
With no thought for the one to whom it comes,
Or how a heart grieves itself and loved ones
With that last glimpse from its fading presence.

Yet it is intimate, the act of death,
To be so chosen, exposed and taken.
Nowhere untouched. But death wants you broken.
The soldiers must wait ages for your last breath.

With all the bright words, you are found out too,
In agony and terror in vaulted air,
Your mind bleached white by a wind from nowhere
That has waited years for one strike at you.

A slanted rain cuts across the black day.
It turns stones crimson where the cross is laid.

21 March 2008

It is Finished.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the Nazorean the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew,Aramaic in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says,‘They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’ And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19. 16-30

19 March 2008

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me."

Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 13:1-17, 31b-35